Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Je parle americain

For those of you who may be wondering, I didn't get kidnapped in Ireland or abducted by aliens. After spending two days in London, I flew back to the States, where I've been living a strangely surreal and eerily normal life for the past few weeks. I never really felt the reverse culture shock. I simply landed in Detroit one evening, got in my mom's car, and ate Chinese takeout for dinner. My one week at home was typical. I went swimming in Lakes Michigan and Superior, read a book, relaxed. As soon as I got back to the States, it's as if I forgot I had left. I forgot that I hadn't seen my family in months, because nothing had changed at home.

I couldn't sleep last night because I kept thinking about Aix, and I worry that the images of my home of five months are already blurring at the edges. I try to picture my daily walk to IEP, through the fruit market, past the Mairie, and it looks like the life of someone else. Did I really stroll down the Cours Mirabeau every Friday night? Did I really take eight classes in French? How did I ever comprehend my Professors, let alone take oral exams? (which I passed, by the way. phew.) Was that really me? Was that really my life? While in France, the time seemed to stretch forever, and Aix became so much a part of my real life that it didn't feel like anything extraordinary. It was life. But real life here, in America, is so different that France doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem like a memory, but a wonderful dream. That sounds cliche, but there's no other way to describe it. You try to hold on to a good dream but it always slips away. That's how it is with Aix.

Actually, the reason I couldn't sleep last night was because my air conditioning broke AGAIN. And since I'm in Washington DC for the summer (oh yeah, forgot to mention that), broken air conditioning means many sleepless nights, zero energy, and endless frustration with the world. Only a week after I got back from France, I flew out to DC for a summer internship, where I'll be until the beginning of August. My building has had crazy problems such as no AC and the fire alarm randomly going off at three in the morning, three nights in a week. I've lived through the hottest June in DC history, with something like more than 16 days in a row with above 90 degree temperatures. In the two and a half weeks I've been here, I've reconnected with friends from last summer, gone to a baseball game in Baltimore, FINALLY gotten carded at a bar, and eaten yogurt and granola to my heart's content.

Despite my subpar living conditions right now, I feel at home and happy here. DC is a great place to be for a young geek like me (yes, I'm officaly a geek. I'm lobbying for software companies. Doesn't get more geeky than that.) I'm living in the center of American politics, where I can't go for a run without passing a historical monument or American icon, where tourists from across the country mingle in the Metro with government workers, interns, and all manner of over-ambitious, workaholic types. The DC culture couldn't be more different from Aix, but it couldn't be more American. And that's why I'm here this summer.

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